My Canadian Experience
Update to 27th January 2005


I am still trying to find a lawyer to handle all the legal work.  I was given three laywers to contact and the first I tried was Tom McGregor and with a name like that thought it would be worth trying him first.  He was going to charge around $1,700 for the work.  My people here in Toronto said that sounded very expensive so tried a John Mathany and got his co-worker Tammy on the phone and she gave me a quote of $1369.00 and said it might even be less.  I'm going to check with one of Nola's friends to see if that is about reasonable but so far that looks to be reasonable given the price of the house.

I might add that the lawyers in Wallaceburg must be doing good business as whenever you try and reach them they are always in meetings.  Getting them to phone you back is not easy either... none of them managed it anyway so I kept phoning back until I got someone.

I also wanted to get clarification on how to bring my house furniture in from Scotland and the web sites give conflicting advice.  I thought I'd try and talk with someone but they have the most convuluted system you could ever believe in trying to talk to a real person.  On their web site they say go to this number and they'll give you the local addresses of our offices but when you go to that number they don't even give you that as an option.

Mind you this is not to say they are any worse than any other country but as I'm just dealing with this one right now and haven't needed to deal with any other I can only comment on their service.

While hunting for information I am generally finding that government offices want to hide behind text messaging which is most irritating.  I think they must have a profit agreement with the phone companies as you spend a huge amount of time listening to all the menus you go through and then find out you don't even get the option to speak to someone.  I have resorted to asking the lawyer if she could find the local customs office around Wallaceburg and that really shouldn't be necessary.

While listening to all the text messages on the Customs phone line one of the options was for reporting suspicious goings on but I think by the time I'd gone through all the text messages I'd have given up wanting to report anything to them. I also wanted to check with my mobile phone folk about the need to change my phone number if I move to Wallaceburg and again that same number of text messages came up.  So all in all today was not a good day as I couldn't find anyone to talk to and have had to refer to other people to try and get me phone numbers for real people.

Update Note:  Hands up... I got someone on the phone about customs and they told me that if I'd waited a bit I would have got an option to talk to an agent.  Essentially when you dial the 1 800 461 9999 number you are told you get 4 options but after they tell you the 4 options they then say you can hit 0 to talk to an agent.  So... sorry for the diatribe above as I obviously didn't wait long enough to hear the fifth option.

Essentially they gave me an address at 1 Front Street, corner of Bay/Yonge where you go and ask to see an officer to request a temporary permit. You need to take 3 copies of a list of your household affects with you. I'll report later on how I get on.

Update Note: I was told that I didn't need the list as I was on a work permit and that also applied if you are waiting for an immigration application to be processed.  Essentially household goods come in duty free but of course no alcohol or cigarettes. I have contacted the removers in Glasgow and they hope to get back to me shortly as to what needs to happen.  It is possible that I might need to meet the shippers at the Canadian border but will do an update on that when I know more.

I will be heading out the OHIP offices tomorrow to get my Ontario Health Insurance Protection. After you are here for 90 days you can enter an application to join the scheme.  Their web site is at http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/public/program/ohip/ohip_mn.html and you can get an application form online which you complete and then take it into one of their offices. In this case they are listed on the site along with their phone numbers... so Customs and others take note!!!

Update Note: Have now visited the office and it is a bit like the driving licence office. You queue up to see reception... around 10 mins.  They check what you are after and verify you have the correct documents with you. (In my case I needed my passport, work permit and Canadian Driving Licence. I did notice a couple of people being turned away as they didn't have all the documents they needed.) If all that is ok then you are given a number and you then sit and watch for your number appearing on screens around the room.  Once called you go up to the booth and give over your papers. You then get a photograph taken and that's about it.  They will send you a health card within 5 weeks but they do give you a bit of paper explaining that you now qualify for health care. I admit to being a bit surprised as in the documentation they mentioned that certain restrictions may apply but there was nothing on the bit of paper saying that so assume I have full coverage. To get more information on this scheme together with an application form which you can print out you should visit their web site at http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/public/program/ohip/ohip_mn.html

I had a visit to CTV yesterday and got to see some of their operations.  I was visiting with David Hunter the Chairman of the Scottish Studies Foundation who is also the Vice-President of Technical Services at CTV.  He had arranged for us to meet Steve McNie who is head of their advertising dept. to see if we could get some advice on finding some new advertisers.  Steve was very helpful and so will be off to see some folk and explore some options.

I got in a membership application for the Royal Canadian Military Institute and will be following this up shortly. I am also pursuing becoming a member of the Press Club and will let you know how those things go in a future update.

I have also transferred over funds from my USA bank account to my Scotiabank here in Canada in preparation for getting things for the house.  The funny thing about Scotiabank is that each time I've transferred money to them they phone me up to ask where I'd like the money placed.  I mean I told them on the wire what account I wanted it placed in so why phone me up to ask?  Weird!  Also in the last phone call the bank asked what I was going to do with the money... as if it is any of their business. They then said did I want a mortgage or a car loan.  Given the fact that they can't supply me with a credit card I asked why on earth I'd even consider going to them for a loan or mortgage.  Very weird people indeed. I will say my bank in the USA, BB&T, has been the best of all the banks I've had to deal with so far.

Update Note: I was told that if you transfer a large sum of money in from outside the country they apparently need to check this as they are concerned about money laundering.  Still seems a bit daft though. I mean if it was half a million or something fine but perhaps it is just as I'm a new account holder.

I got an invite to go to a special seminar at the Canadian Consultate in Detroit during February so am looking forward to going to that.  I need to double check I won't have any problems going into the USA as I'd heard there was to be some changes to the visa waiver program that the UK has with the USA. The seminar is on Feb 28th from 10am to 12 noon.

Another funny thing happened to me when looking for a bed to purchase.  As it has been many years since I purchased a bed I found the process somewhat confusing.  You can't actually purchase a bed, that is a complete bed.  You need to buy a frame, a headboard, a base matress, the actual mattress, etc.  Then you have to decide on a twin bed, double bed, queen bed or king bed. <sheesh>

All in all I found dealing with Tom and Als a lot easier as you could talk to them and they told you what you needed.  So my advice to folk looking for furniture and stuff for the house is go talk to the local store as they seem to be just as competitive and a lot more helpful.

I have arranged the TV and Internet access through Cogeco for my Wallaceburg access. The total package seems to be around CAN$169.00 a month and that gives me all the TV channels and business hi-speed Internet. Around $136 or 72 so in my terms that is a good price. You can also run 4 TVs on that price as well.

I'm still humming and hawing about a car as I really don't need one where I am staying in Toronto so have pretty much decided to leave this to start of March as I will need one mid March onwards.  I am starting to explore how I might get a car though and what all my options are. As you will already know getting finance in Canada while on a work permit is not cheap. I am told that if I am a house owner then this might well give me a better deal so waiting until 1st March seems like a good idea.

I have ascertained that insurance will be around $2,600 but if you can produce an old insurance policy from the UK then you might get a reasonable discount.  I have thus made contact with my old insurers and they have emailed me to say they've found the policy and will post over a copy of it to me.

Anyway that's pretty much all for now but still things to do and see :-)

Update for 1st Feb.... I was today notified that I've been elected to the Board of the Scottish Studies Society which is the commercial arm of the Scottish Studies Foundation.  So hopefully this means I'll be able to help them with some of the work that they do.


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